Soccer: The Great Teacher

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
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Dec 15, 2002
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I was out to dinner with my wife and parents the other day and we started talking about the daughter of a family friend who is in the process of opening a bar in Boise. I mentioned a Fun Fact (tm) that I know, which is that Boise is the primary home of the US' Basque-American population. Asked how I knew that, I was forced to ramble about how there's this Spanish team called Athletic Bilbao that only signs Basque players, and one time they came to Idaho to play a friendly which I thought was bizarre, so I looked into it and found out about Boise's Basque connection.

I think I've learned an amazing amount of random stuff like this through soccer. I've learned about Catalonia's role in opposition to Francisco Franco. I know that Livorno, Italy has particularly left-wing politics. I know that the geographic distribution of Bundesliga clubs is yet another reminder of the significant economic divide between the former East and West Germany. I know that possibly the only functional national institution in the DRC is their soccer league, which has produced TP Mazembe, who have won the CAF Champions League a bunch of times. I've seen the legacy of communist-era leagues and learned what all those widespread prefixes mean (CSKA, Dynamo, Torpedo, Lokomotiv, etc).

I've learned about the lost history of the (largely immigrant) professional soccer leagues in the US in the 1920s.


Then there's this recurring conversation:

Me: "So where are you from?"
European: "Oh, a small city — you wouldn't know it"
Me: "Try me."
Me: [knows the city]
Me: [tries to brush off how I know it b/c it's weird to talk about that time I went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and was reading about second division clubs in Sweden.]


What have you picked up along the way?
 

SoxFanInCali

has the rich, deep voice of a god and the penis of
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Jun 3, 2005
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California. Duh.
It's tough to spend any time reading about Liverpool history and not pick up a lot about Thatcher-era politics and their effect on the northwest of England.

I did a ton of international travel in the early 2000's before soccer really took off over here, and being able to talk about not only the top Premier League clubs but about teams at all levels from all over the continent made fitting in much easier.

I also convinced a German guy to buy me 5 or 6 beers in Munich one night as an apology for Torsten Frings.
 

DrewDawg

Dorito Dink
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Dec 16, 2010
33,878
I feel like one of the first few replies should be about Celtic/Rangers and the Old Firm and how that's about more than soccer. But maybe @The Allented Mr Ripley should speak to it.

And of course the history of the Spurs and Yid Army.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
16,331
I have a eight year old that is just starting structured youth soccer and I'm finding out a lot about parents, parenting, and the two-income family really changed our kids.

Does that count?
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
Sep 27, 2016
7,488
I learned about the US's Soccer Wars of the early 20th century, where basically FIFA got angry that we were having some success running a professional league that drew european talent, stirred shit up over here, and the resulting fracture caused the American public to largely abandon the sport as a spectator pastime for 35 years.

After reading more about that, I have a lot more sympathy for MLS's ongoing desire to tell the USSF (and by extension, FIFA) to pound sand at every opportunity. Doesn't mean I like it, but I understand.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Jun 15, 2002
3,243
An idle question of “what’s with all the Hapoels, Maccabis and Beitars in Israeli football?” will lead you to a surprising amount of understanding of the political factions of early 20th century Zionism. I knew the broad political perspectives involved, but I had not known how precisely those prefixes were tied to specific party-associated organizations until I poked around a bit.

We’re in an age where a weird fact can spark such an easy deep dive into research, and global football is such a good generator of weird facts from places you might not otherwise be thinking about.
 

DrewDawg

Dorito Dink
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
33,878
Word.

Edit:I live ten minutes walk from Ibrox, but aye, yer man from Boston needs to speak to it first and foremost.
We don't trust on the ground reporting.

More seriously, my bad, not sure how you slipped my mind. But you're in it---those of us over here have to learn about it. Which I think is more to what the opening post was asking.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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Nov 8, 2004
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Bernal
I was out to dinner with my wife and parents the other day and we started talking about the daughter of a family friend who is in the process of opening a bar in Boise. I mentioned a Fun Fact (tm) that I know, which is that Boise is the primary home of the US' Basque-American population.
As SoSH's resident native Boisean, I wish her luck. Many of my good high school friends were Basque-Os.

On topic, learning ethnic names and proper pronunciations is great benefit of the beautiful game.
 

fletcherpost

sosh's feckin' poet laureate
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Jul 15, 2005
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America
We don't trust on the ground reporting.

More seriously, my bad, not sure how you slipped my mind. But you're in it---those of us over here have to learn about it. Which I think is more to what the opening post was asking.

Ha no worries mate. To be honest. In the Scottish Fitba thread there are a few posters, ex pats and otherwise who have made good observations about the Old Firm, their detrimental impact on Scotland and Scottish football. There's positive's too, cos both teams bring a lot of attention to Scotland and Scottish football. But Scotland has to break free of the Ulsterization of Scottish football, life and politics. It holds us back.

But yeah, trust me, i get woken up on Saturdays to the strains of drums and flutes a lot. And if you watch a Celtic match you see a lot of tricolours. Watch a Rangers match you see a lot of Union Jacks. I know there's history involved, but, 1690 was a long time ago.

That said, what I've heard from living here last few years, talking to people, is that back in the day when the first Irish immigrants came to Glasgow that by and large Catholics and Protestants got on fine. But in the 30s when the World Financial Crash happened and money and jobs got tight, then Catholics were getting the thin edge of the wedge job wise, and that most of the senior positions in industry and business were held by Protestant men who favoured their own kind. And this led to the fanning of the sectarian flames as poverty in the more Catholic parts of Glasgow became more pronounced.